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British artist celebrates 'afrocentric beauty' in exhibition

SKILLS: Joy Baines with her artwork

LIKE ALL artists, Joy Baines is inspired by the beautiful things around her. And to her, there’s nothing more beautiful than the black form.

“I don't have a particular theme to my work apart from my love of celebrating afrocentric beauty – male or female,” the British born, Jamaican-raised artist tells The Voice.

“I usually depict them as if they are in a state of grace; it is almost as if they are revelling in their own beauty and sense of self.”

With two degrees under her belt – one in fine art sculpture and the other in fine art as social practice – Baines is inspired by human form, especially faces and afro hair.

“I am particularly attracted to the richness of dark skin colour. I love the way that the light rests on the surface and reflects a myriad of hues; sienna, reds, yellow ochre, blues, bronze.

“At times, the smoothness of the skin seems so polished that it's almost unreal, like it has been fashioned from the finest mahogany wood or semi precious stone like melanite.”

Baines, who is also a qualified art teacher adds: “I love sculpting the features too, particularly the mouth because of the depth of detail that can be formed on smooth or textured lips.”

When it comes to creating afro hair, Baines enjoys experimenting with a range of materials to achieve kinky curls and thick dreadlocks.

“I'm in love with afro hair – short, long, curly,” she exclaims. “When I’m making the afro hairstyles, I sometimes make them out of punched card flowers, or use resin, sand, plaster, rhinestones, paper mâché, fabric, wool, felt or leather depending on the effect that I'm trying to achieve.

“For dreads, I use the same materials but fashion them differently - more linier.”
The creative adds: “Plaits can be challenging to sculpt depending on the size, but I love depicting them.

BEAUTY: The artist celebrates the black form through her painings and sculptures

“I like working into the surface of my pictures with a wide variety of techniques, such as stitching, burning, collage, splatter, frottage, printing, and embossing.”
First falling in love with art as a child, Baines explains that it was the work of the 19th Century group of artists, the Pre-Raphaelites that led to her allure of big hair.

“As a child, I fell in love with Pre-Raphaelite art, which depicted graceful women with masses of hair. I also love Benin and Ife sculptures, which are not only beautiful, but also exquisitely crafted.

“I'm sure that those images must have informed my work over time.”
And amongst her male influences was a certain sporting hero.

“Over time, my work consisted of predominantly male images, usually with dreads. At one point I was obsessed with Lennox Lewis!”

Throughout August, Baines is exhibiting her artwork in the gallery at Ward End Library in Birmingham. She usually shows and sells her smaller pictures in independent shops and themed art craft markets across the country, and also in three regular outlets in London.

STRIKING: One of Baines’ colourful pieces of art

Most of her customers who have bought the smaller pieces, often request to see the much larger works, so this new exhibition will be “an excellent opportunity to showcase them,” Baines says.

Keen to expand her clientele, the fine artist also runs an online boutique, ArtsFro, where she sells her afrocentric creations including jewellery, clothing, handbags, collectables and gifts.

Joy Baines’ exhibition continues at Ward End Library, Birmingham until August 31. For more information, visit

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